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The devolution of various welfare powers to Scotland has led to speculation as to what a Scottish benefits system might look like. However, analysis from David Bell suggests that Holyrood may struggle to meet the bill for existing benefits in future years, let alone new ones. 

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The Chancellor has used the Budget to limit the Scottish Government's room for manoeuvre, say David Bell, particularly through changes to Corporation Tax and the National Minimum Wage.
 
Once again, George Osborne has proved himself to be a clever politician.
 
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The Scottish Government's new capacity to borrow is a vital, if little-discussed, power. However, says Angus Armstrong, the details of how this will work may have been dodged by the Smith Commission but cannot long be avoided by the Scottish Government and HM Treasury. 
 
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What’s the fuss about austerity?
 
Is all the concern about austerity misplaced? The latest labour-market statistics published on Wednesday contained more good news. There was another increase in the employment rate, in both Scotland and the UK. Scotland’s 74.4% employment rate is at an all time high. The economic inactivity rate has fallen and is at a historic low.
 
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Income inequality in Scotland (and the UK) was low and stable throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The 1980s saw a significant increase in inequality, driven by a variety of factors. Deindustrialisation and technological change caused a fall in demand for many middle and lower-skilled occupations, and this combined with an erosion of trade union power and labour market deregulation led to a relative decline in wages at the lower end of the distribution. Financial deregulation and a reduction in top rates of income tax contributed to a rise in salaries at the upper end.
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Current discussions over the Scotland Bill have seen the Chancellor and SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson at loggerheads over the role of borrowing in national life. Gemma Tetlow of the Institute for Fiscal Studies discusses the approach of the two governments and their likely implications for taxation. 

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Talk of Scotland adopting a Scandinavian economic model usually comes with no mention of the bill but, suggests recent research, the impact of higher taxes is more complicated than it might at first appear. 
 
The Scottish Government holds up the Scandinavian economic model as one this country might emulate.
 
The focus is typically on the good news of more and better public services, with little comment on higher levels of taxation to pay for them.
 
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The suggestion by the SNP that success at the Westminster election provides a mandate for devolution of the National Minimum Wage may create some unexpected complications, says David Eiser.
 
The SNP believes that the scale of its victory at the General Election amounts to a mandate for the devolution of further powers (beyond those recommended by the Smith process) to the Scottish Parliament. In particular, they have called for devolution of powers over the minimum wage, both in their election manifesto and in subsequent announcements.
 
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  • 10th August 2018

    Brexit is re-making the UK’s constitution under our noses. The territorial constitution is particularly fragile. Pursuing Brexit, Theresa May’s government has stumbled into deep questions about devolution.

  • 8th August 2018

    The UK in a Changing Europe has formed a new Brexit Policy Panel (BPP). The BPP is a cross-disciplinary group of over 100 leading social scientists created to provide ongoing analysis of where we have got to in the Brexit process, and to forecast where we are headed. Members of the UK in a Changing Europe Brexit Policy Panel complete a monthly survey addressing three key areas of uncertainty around Brexit: if —and when—the UK will leave the EU; how Brexit will affect British politics; and what our relationship with the EU is likely to look like in the future. The CCC participates on the Panel.

  • 2nd August 2018

    The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee issued its report ‘Devolution and Exiting the EU: reconciling differences and building strong relationships’. Discussing its contents, Professor Nicola McEwen suggests that the report includes some practical recommendations, some of which were informed by CCC research. It also shines a light on some of the more difficult challenges ahead.

  • 31st July 2018

    The politicisation of Brexit, combined with deteriorating relations between London and Dublin, has created a toxic atmosphere in Northern Ireland, says Mary Murphy, which will require imagination and possibly new institutions to resolve.

  • 25th July 2018

    Given that there are many policy differences between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK, asks Jonathan Evershed, why has customs policy been singled out as a red line by Unionists?

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